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Omega in Action

Omega in Action highlights inspiring people and organizations making meaningful change. From protecting the environment to empowering women, healing veterans, and serving nonprofits, you'll find fresh perspectives, trending news, and the latest information on noteworthy events here at Omega and around the world.

OWLC Advisory Council Member Edit Schlaffer in Zanzibar

3 years 1 month ago

Recently, Omega Women's Leadership Center advisory council member Edit Schlaffer visited Zanzibar, the island off the coast of Tanzania in East Africa, where debates around their constitution and a referendum concerning unity with the mainland are fueling cultural and political radicalization that has especially impacted women and families. Young Zanzibaris have taken to the streets in violent protest led by UAMSHO, meaning the Awakening. Tying together her experiences there with events around the world, Edit reflects on the realities of terrorism, the fate of the Nigerian school girls kidnapped, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and makes a call to action to the mothers and women of these regions while there is still an opportunity to prevent further radicalization. 

 "We can't let the violent extremist hijack the local narrative....This is the entry point to build up the resilience in mainstream society and encourage the strength to stand up and say: 'No, your agenda is not our agenda'....We need to look at the first line of defense which are the families and particularly the mothers. The home is the place where the excitement and frustrations of the adolescents can be dealt with and channeled. This is the only safe place where early warning signs can be addressed and responded to in an empathetic and constructive way....

[Women] need to bring their voice and concerns to the fore. They need to be active in their families and communities to build resilience and create alternatives to external influences, which might lure them into divisive directions. Given their unique perspective and position in the heart of their communities, their expertise needs to be recognized and used across all levels of society both formal and informal.

This is about humanity now, it is time to stand up and defend our fabric of life. If half of humanity is left behind and left out, it won't work."

Read the full article on the Huffington Post

Learn more about the Omega Women's Leadership Center

OWLC Attends "Celebrating Women Breakfast" Honoring Gloria Steinem

3 years 2 months ago

On May 8th, Omega Women's Leadership Center director, Michele Bertran joined more than 2,000 women leaders at the New York Women's Foundation (NYWF) 27th Annual Celebrating Women Breakfast in New York City. At the breakfast, Gloria Steinem, an Omega Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC) Advisory Council member, was celebrated as the Century Award Honoree for her exemplary and lifelong human rights commitment. 

Gloria spoke about the unfinished business of the women's movement—including obtaining equal pay for equal work, ending domestic and global violence against women, and calling for a culture of equality, inclusion, and respect. Ana Oliveira, NYWF President and CEO, whose own remarks also addressed inequality and violence, talked about the forward looking and uniting work of NYWF in the coming year. She described the breakfast as "the sitting march of our movement." 

Omega Service Week Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary Milestone of Reaching 4,000+ Dedicated Staff Serving 300 Nonprofits that Impact Millions

3 years 2 months ago

2014 Recipients Announced: 33 Nonprofits Receive Retreat Space for Visioning, Strategic Planning & Networking, May 2630th

RHINEBECK, NY –This year marks the 10th anniversary of Omega Service Week, a program that supports nonprofit organizations and foundations committed to improving the well-being of others and the planet. Omega today announced 33 nonprofit organizations will be awarded two-day, two-night organizational retreats on Omega’s 200-acre campus, including free room and board, a private meeting space, use of facilities, and a consultation with Omega’s partner, the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON).

“The challenges that nonprofits face nowadays are numerous and complex. Omega’s Service Week offers a unique opportunity in a safe, nurturing environment for organizations to step back, breathe, and take the opportunity with one of our expert staff to get the check-up they may have been postponing,” said Doug Sauer, chief executive officer of New York Council of Nonprofits.

Omega’s annual Service Week is comprised of two sessions. During the first session (May 26-28), Omega welcomes organizations from the Mid-Hudson Valley, Connecticut, and New York City, working in health care, the arts, sustainability, and human services. The second session (May 28-30), the Women Serving Women Summit, is presented by the Omega Women’s Leadership Center. The only nonprofit leadership retreat of its kind, the 2014 summit will bring together nonprofits working to improve the lives of women and girls in eight different states and will include a series of roundtable discussions, a collaborative art experience, and more. The participation of Mid-Hudson Valley nonprofits in Service Week is funded in part by a significant grant from the Dyson Foundation.

“Omega started Service Week 10 years ago as a way to help support our nonprofit peers and to strengthen the safety-net that so many people in our extended community depend upon. We are thrilled with the success of the program, which has directly touched more than 300 nonprofits and 4,000 dedicated people over the years and has an aggregate ripple effect in the millions,” said Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega.

Omega is pleased to award 2014 Service Week retreats to the following organizations, which are actively engaged in creating a more compassionate and sustainable world:

Session 1 Recipients:

Mid-Hudson Valley Organizations:

Astor Services for Children & Families
Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children
Habitat for Humanity of Dutchess County
Hudson River HealthCare
Hudson Valley Current
Re>Think Local
Resource Center for Accessible Living, Inc.
Rondout Valley Holistic Health Community
The Children’s Home of Kingston
The Institute for Family Health: Ulster County Healthy Families & Dutchess County Healthy Families

Additional Organizations:

New York Memory Center
Wediko Children’s Services, New York Branch
Westchester Institute for Human Development, Child Welfare Services

Session 2 Recipients- Women Serving Women Summit:

Mid-Hudson Valley Organizations:

American Association of University Women, Poughkeepsie Chapter
Breastfeeding Initiative of Ulster County
The Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse
Girls on the Run Hudson Valley
Million Women Drummers Gathering

Additional Organizations:

Be the Change NJ
Care USA
The Center for Family Justice, Inc.
Girls for GLocal Leadership
Girls at Work, Inc.
Girls For a Change
Girls for Gender Equity
Love Heals
Ophelia’s Place
Prevention is Key
The Prison Birth Project
Sakhi for South Asian Women
School of Leadership, Afghanistan
YWCA New York City

For more information about Omega’s annual Service Week program and how to apply, contact Marta Szabo at 845.266.4444, ext. 403, or by email at

For information about the Women Serving Women Summit or Omega Women’s Leadership Center, contact Sarah Urech at 845.266.4444, ext. 412, or by email at

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies
Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation’s most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on 200 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world.



Omega CEO Responds to New York Times Article

3 years 2 months ago

Omega CEO, Robert "Skip" Backus, responded yesterday to a New York Times article covering local community reaction to the proposed upgrade of power lines in the Hudson Valley.

In the article titled, "With Power Comes Ambivalence," a number of residents—from farmers to homeowners and real estate agents to business owners—expressed deep concern about the possible economic, health, and environmental impact of the upgrade. They also shared how they are organizing to ensure their voices are heard in the development of the final proposal for the upgrade. 

In his response, Backus said, "We need to be sure to have a full and rich conversation about all the costs involved in this proposal. It’s easy to point out numbers concerning congestion costs to businesses and residents’ utility bills, but other short and long term costs are less transparent. Let’s be sure to understand what best serves all the communities both upstate and downstate."

Read the New York Times article and Skip Backus' full response

Learn more about No Monster Power Lines 

More Than 100 Walk to #BringBackOurGirls

3 years 2 months ago

This Mother's Day, the Omega Women's Leadership Center and a coalition of local organizations, including the Eleanor Roosevelt Partnership at Val Kill and the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Leadership Alliance, held an event at Walkway Over the Hudson in support of 276 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls and their families. The girls were kidnapped four weeks ago by Islamic extremists.

The event began on the Poughkeepsie side of the Walkway at 10:00 a.m. More than 100 women, men, and children walked in concern for the fate of the young women in Nigeria and in solidarity for an end to violence against women and girls worldwide.

"It's not just a women's issue, it's a social issue, it's a global issue, it's a human rights issue, and we can't just sit by and not say something," said Carla Goldstein, cofounder of the Women's Leadership Center and chief external affairs officer at Omega Institute. 


Mother’s Day Walk to Send Solidarity Message to Nigeria #BringBackOurGirls

3 years 2 months ago

The Dutchess County Women’s Leadership Alliance & the Omega Women’s Leadership Center Announce Gathering at Walkway Over The Hudson this Sunday at 10 a.m.

RHINEBECK, NY – As the world watches and waits on the fate of 276 stolen Nigerian schoolgirls, organizations and concerned citizens around the world are speaking out this Mother’s Day to call for an end to violence against women and girls everywhere. In the Hudson Valley, concerned leaders are organizing an event at Walkway Over The Hudson this Sunday morning, May 11th, to send a message that what has happened in Nigeria cannot be ignored, and that they stand in solidarity with the mothers and girls of Nigeria. The event will begin on the Poughkeepsie side of the Walkway at 10 a.m.

“This is the worst shame. We are walking in moral outrage as once again girls’ rights are trampled on. Imagine their fear and horror and sense of isolation. We are there with them,” said Manuela Roosevelt, board chair of the Eleanor Roosevelt Partnership at Val Kill.

“Key to ending violence against women and girls is making it visible, and ensuring that it is culturally and legally intolerable,” said Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega Institute and cofounder of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC). “This September we are hosting a program, Women/Men: The Next Conversation, that features global leaders working to end violence against women and girls. We could not stand by on Mother’s Day without connecting the dots.”

“The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Leadership Alliance (WLA) is proud to lend its support of this awareness and walk together to symbolize solidarity. The WLA each year holds events to mark International Women’s Day on March 8th,” said Gloria Cukar, Women’s Leadership Alliance liaison, Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce.  

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies
Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation's most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. The Omega Women’s Leadership Center is a special initiative of Omega. Located on 200 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world.

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A Veteran's Experience of Healing

3 years 2 months ago

On April 16–20, Omega hosted the Costs of War, Violence & Denial retreat with Claude AnShin Thomas. In this intensive retreat for veterans living with post-traumatic stress, veterans, their families, and friends explored many different meditations as a path to healing.

During the program, participants were asked to write about something related to their wartime experience they had never told anyone. Afterward, 10 veterans got up and read their stories in front of the group, revealing how personal—and universal—their experiences were, and also how healing and bonding it was to share their stories with others. One Vietnam veteran shared his story online, where he reflected on bravery, opening up, and being human.

Learn more about one veteran’s experience in the program

Learn more about veterans initiatives at Omega

Keep Power Lines Within Current Footprint

3 years 2 months ago

Continuing their campaign against proposed power line expansion plans in upstate New York, Scenic Hudson and Omega Institute have had a letter to the editor published in the Albany Times Union. 

Signed by Omega CEO Robert “Skip” Backus and Scenic Hudson president Ned Sullivan, the letter says any plan to expand the state’s electricity transmission infrastructure must ensure power lines remain “within the footprint of existing infrastructure,” and urges “the [Public Service Commission] to accelerate selection of bidders that fully meet these goals.”

Doing so will allow farm, home, and business owners, whose properties abut or are in the viewshed of proposed utility expansion corridors, some much needed clarity on how their lives and properties will be affected in the future. 

Read the full letter to the editor.

Learn more about the Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

OWLC Attends the UN Commission on the Status of Women

3 years 3 months ago

Omega Women's Leadership (OWLC) director, Michele Bertran, recently attended the UN Commission on the Status of Women at the UN headquarters in New York City. This was the fifty-eighth annual session and included representatives of Member States, UN entities, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from all over the world. This year's theme was "Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls."

The OWLC attended a pivotal session, "Open Dialogue on Beijing + 20," a discussion about the progress made in the almost 20 years since the 1995 UN Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China. The session solidified a call to all duty bearers for unprecedented will and commitment to end gender inequality. It also highlighted UN Women's plan to create a "forward looking process that will galvanize diverse stakeholders: governments, parliamentarians, civil society, media, opinion leaders, the UN system, and the private sectors" around the following specific core objectives:

  • Renew political will, commitment, and concrete action by governments and all partners to accelerate implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action
  • Enhance social mobilization, awareness-raising, and revitalized public debate across all sectors of society
  • Strengthen evidence to increase knowledge and understanding of the structural causes of gender-based discrimination and inequality and of solutions and best practices
  • Invest in sufficient resources for achieving gender equality, women's rights, and women's empowerment

OWLC in Denver for Mediation Training

3 years 3 months ago

Omega Women's Leadership Center (OWLC) director, Michele Bertran, participated in a conflict resolution training with InAccord Justice Centers to share information about Omega and the OWLC with others working for peaceful solutions and just outcomes. Held in Denver, Colorado, the training was attended by 22 participants from the United States and Nigeria interested in honing their mediation, arbitration, and restorative justice skills. Bertran said Omega's holistic worldview "that the well-being of each is connected to the well-being of all of us" really resonated with those who are actively working for peace and justice.

InAccord Justice Centers provides services and training in mediation, arbitration, and restorative justice through a collection of centers located globally. Their procedural conflict resolution model was developed by Mediators Without Borders. An "empirically based technique," it offers empowerment, transparency, and fairness, and incorporates research in achieving solutions to conflict.

Founder of InAccord Justice and Mediators Without Borders, Shauna Ries, organized the event and led the training. She and Michele Bertran are cofaculty for the upcoming OWLC workshop, Leading with Emotional Courage: How Empathy Can Heal, Inspire & Create Breakthroughs, from May 23-26.

Learn more about the 2014 OWLC workshops


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